American Patriotic 10

William "Bill" Steffens

July 30, 1925 ~ May 13, 2020 (age 94)

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Obituary

William R. “Bill” Steffens, 94, of Petoskey, MI died peacefully surrounded by his wife, BJ and his six children on May 13, 2020.

Bill was born on July 30, 1925 in Grand Rapids, MI to Margaret Steffens and was one of five children. He later moved to Charlevoix, MI during the Great Depression, attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and Charlevoix High School. He was well known growing up and considered a hard worker at any job he ever took on, especially his paper route. Following High School, Bill enlisted in the military and was accepted into the new Army Air Corp Cadet Aviation Program and graduated with a Bombardier Commission on a B-17. He furthered his military career by attending radar school in Florida and after graduation was assigned to a B-29 group for additional training in Albuquerque, NM. Bill excelled in the military and gave 10 years of service which included many important missions and commendations, playing trumpet in various bands, and designing the Air Rescue Service logo, which is still in use to today.

In 1953, upon discharge, he returned to Charlevoix and met his beloved wife of 65 years, Bonnie Jean Cunningham and their love story began. They married on June 26, 1954 in Charlevoix and had six children, Gary, Karen, Kathy, Karla, Mike, and Mary Kay. Bill and BJ resided in Flint, Fenton, and Mt. Pleasant before making Petoskey their permanent residence in 1961 when their life of community service began. Bill was an icon in Petoskey – he exemplified what it meant to be a patriot,  Christian, educator, family man and community service role model. He was a vocational education teacher for over 30 years, as well as, a driver’s education instructor, and the innovator of the electronics program for Petoskey High School. His dedication to the Petoskey school system extended beyond the classroom as the familiar voice announcing for track, football, and basketball. He was a strong advocate for the vocational education program, and his teaching contributions were recognized in 1974 when he was presented the Master Teacher award by the Michigan Industrial Education Society. Bill was also a loyal member of the American Legion and VFW in Petoskey and would always be present for a parade, community event or project, especially the Midshipmen Drum and Bugle Corp. Bill was the “Midshipman Dad,” trusted bus driver and all purpose man “who could fix anything!” He spent countless hours making sure they were ready for a road trip and had great pride that his children played in the Drum Corp and BJ would lend her talents to make flags and keep the kids fed!  Bill’s catholic faith led him to St. Francis Xavier parish where he devoted years of service as a regarded member of the Knights of Columbus, CCD teacher, working church events and making soup at his cherished Brother Dan’s Food Pantry.  Bill had many talents and was known to help his neighbor however he could,  but  he will always be remembered as a faithful servant to the Lord, devoted husband and father, respected teacher, and a patriot!

He is survived by his wife, BJ Steffens, Gary Steffens (Lynn), Karen (Kim) Thomson, Kathy (Keith) Nahlovsky, Karla (Stephen) Frei, Mike Steffens, and Mary Kay (Corey) Pederson. Grandchildren,  Jamie (Toby) Breakey, Tracy Thomson (Taylor Martin), Joshua Derrig, Kari (Sam) Anderson, Kasey Nahlovsky, Jason and Ashley Frei, and Emma and Abby Pederson. Great grandchildren Jackson, Branden, and Tyler Breakey, and Luna and Luciana Anderson. Sister, Marilou Gladstone, sister and brother in-law Joyce and Deano Davenport, and brother in-law Dale Suomela and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret Steffens, father and mother in-law  Hap and Norma Cunningham,  sister in-law Judy Suomela, and sisters Marge (Don) Czachorski, Ph yllis (Wayne) Martin, and brother John. 

In memory of Bill's years of community service, while floral tributes are appreciated, his family asks that you consider donations to the American Legion Post 194 or Brother Dan’s Food Pantry at St. Francis Xavier church. The family is planning a celebration of life for Bill later this summer, details will be announced at a later date by Stone Funeral Home.

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Services

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Donations

American Legion Post 194
455 Bay St., Petoskey MI 49770

Brother Dan's Food Pantry
415 State Street, Petoskey MI 49770
Web: http://brotherdans.org

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